Fun fact:  New Jersey is completely surrounded by water except for roughly 40 miles of land that shares a border with New York. This is in part due to the Delaware River acting as the state’s western border.

Another fun fact:  New Jersey also surrounds its students with some of the best financial aid programs in the country to help them attend in-state colleges.

While New Jersey offers multiple types of grants, scholarships and loans, five of its most popular and lucrative offerings include the Tuition Aid Grant, the Governor’s Urban Scholarship, the New Jersey Student Tuition Assistance Reward Scholarship, the New Jersey Student Tuition Assistance Reward Scholarship II and the Governor’s Industry Vocations Scholarship for Women and Minorities.

General Eligibility Requirements

With every New Jersey college financial aid program, the eligibility requirements are consistent, except for a few differentiating academic requirements. Generally speaking though, to be eligible for New Jersey college financial aid programs , a student must:

  • Meet general federal aid eligibility requirements,
  • Demonstrate financial need for funding,
  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen,
  • Be a legal New Jersey resident for at least 12 consecutive months immediately prior to college enrollment,
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress in high school and college,
  • Be enrolled as a full-time undergraduate student at an eligible New Jersey postsecondary institution in an approved degree or certificate program,
  • Not have completed a bachelor’s degree yet (or an associate degree where applicable),
  • Not have received the maximum allowable number of grant payments yet,
  • Not be in default on a federal or state student loan,
  • Not owe a refund on a federal or state grant,
  • Not be enrolled in a theology or divinity degree program, and
  • Complete and file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and/or the New Jersey Alternative Financial Aid Application (NJAFAA) and any other application requirements annually before their respective deadlines.

Tuition Aid Grant

The Tuition Aid Grant (TAG) is one of the country’s largest and most generous financial aid programs when it comes to college. In fact, one-third of all full-time undergraduate New Jersey students attending school in New Jersey receive TAG funding.

All eligibility requirements for TAG are the same as the general financial aid eligibility requirements; it should also be noted there is a part-time TAG program for county/community college students who are enrolled in six to 11 credit hours per semester.

The full-time TAG program may cover up to the cost of tuition for an eligible student, though this varies based on the student’s needs, the cost of attendance at the eligible New Jersey postsecondary institution and available funding.

The TAG program must be applied for annually—see FAFSA and/or NJAFAA requirement for application process. The award amounts vary every year, but for the 2020-2021 academic year, students who:

  • Attended county college received up to $2,786 in funding,
  • Attended public state colleges and universities received up to $7,380 in funding,
  • Attended independent state colleges and universities received up to $12,938 in funding, and
  • Attended proprietary degree-granting schools received up to $12,938.

The New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (NJ HESAA) has a handy chart to help students learn more about the TAG funding breakdown.

Governor’s Urban Scholarship

In 2012, the Governor’s Urban Scholarship, a merit-based scholarship, was launched in an effort to help students in New Jersey’s economically-challenged communities afford to attend college.

For a student to be eligible for the Governor’s Urban Scholarship, they must meet all the general eligibility requirements and as well as file FAFSA or NJAFAA. They also must:

  • Live in one of the following New Jersey communities when they graduate high school:
    • Asbury Park City, Camden City, East Orange City, Irvington Township, Jersey City, Lakewood, Millville City, Newark City, New Brunswick City, Paterson City, Plainfield City, Roselle Borough, Trenton City and Vineland City;
  • Attend an eligible New Jersey postsecondary institution that accepts the Governor’s Urban Scholarship funding;
  • Rank within the top 5% of their high school class; and
  • Earn a cumulative 3.00 GPA or higher at the end of their junior year of high school.

The student’s high school will notify the student of their Governor’s Urban Scholarship eligibility during December of their senior year and the student’s guidance counselor can provide the student with more information on what the next steps are at a later date.

A student can receive $1,000 from the scholarship and can renew their eligibility for the award yearly by completing their FAFSA or NJAFAA.

New Jersey Student Tuition Assistance Reward Scholarship

The New Jersey Student Tuition Assistance Reward Scholarship (NJ STARS) provides New Jersey’s highest academically-achieving students with the opportunity to have a chance to attend county college (AKA community college) for free.

A student must meet all general New Jersey financial aid requirements to be eligible for the program. A student also must:

  • Rank in the top 15% of their high school class at the end of their junior year and/or senior year,
  • Attend a county college in their home county (AKA the county they reside in),
  • Earn a required score on a college placement test,
  • Complete a rigorous high school course of study, and
  • Maintain continuous full-time enrollment in an associate degree program by taking at least 12 college-level credits each semester.

To officially apply for the NJ STARS, a student must:

  • Apply for admission to their home county college,
  • File FAFSA or NJAFAA before their deadlines, and
  • Continue to meet all other eligibility requirements.

Students can receive NJ STARS funding for up to five semesters. To renew eligibility, a student must earn a cumulative 3.00 GPA or higher by the start of their second year of county college enrollment.

The NJ STARS program can provide funding to cover the cost of tuition for up to 18 credit hours per semester.

New Jersey Student Tuition Assistance Reward Scholarship II

The New Jersey Student Tuition Assistance Reward Scholarship II (NJ STARS II) is the follow-up program to NJ STARS if a student decides to transfer to an eligible, four-year New Jersey postsecondary institution to complete their bachelor’s degree.

In order to be eligible for the NJ STARS II program, a student must meet all general eligibility requirements as well as:

  • Be an NJ STARS recipient during the semester in which they graduate from county college,
  • Graduate from a New Jersey county college with an associate degree,
  • Graduate with a 3.25 GPA or higher from their New Jersey county college,
  • Have a family income less than $250,000,
  • Be admitted to an eligible four-year New Jersey postsecondary institution (one that accepts TAG funding as well),
  • Be taking classes no later than the second semester immediately following county college graduation, and
  • Be enrolled as a full-time student, taking a minimum of 12 college-level credits each semester, in an approved course of study.

To officially apply for the NJ STARS II program, a student must:

  • Apply to an eligible, four-year New Jersey postsecondary institution,
  • Inform the admissions office that the student was an NJ STARS scholar once they have been admitted,
  • Provide the admissions office with their official New Jersey county college transcript that proves the GPA requirement and associate degree requirement, and
  • Complete and submit FAFSA or NJAFAA before the deadline.

The student’s college will then alert the student if they have been selected to receive funding from NJ STARS II.

The award a recipient is given is based off the school’s tuition cost and if the student has any other state college financial aid coming their way, but it can total up to $2,500 per semester.

Students can receive NJ STARS II funding for up to four consecutive semesters, excluding summer terms.

Governor’s Industry Vocations Scholarship for Women and Minorities

The Governor’s Industry Vocations Scholarship for Women and Minorities (NJ-GIVS) was founded in 2013 to help diversify the workforce in the construction field.

For a student to be eligible for the NJ-GIVS, they must meet all general eligibility requirements as well as:

  • Be a woman or a member of a minority group;
  • Be pursuing a degree or a certificate in a construction-related field at any of New Jersey’s 19 county colleges or vocational schools that accept TAG funding,
    • Such majors can include architectural engineering technology, carpentry, civil engineering technology, electrical trades, masonry, plumbing, etc.;
  • Have an annual household income of less than $60,000, and
  • Earned a high school diploma or a GED equivalent.

An eligible award recipient can receive up to $2,000 per academic year or up to the cost of tuition for their schooling. The NJ-GIVS is renewable, but only for one year. A student will have to complete a renewal application and, as always, submit their FAFSA or NJAFAA to be eligible.

Major Colleges in New Jersey

The line-up of colleges and universities in New Jersey is quite impressive. In fact, the Garden State is home to some of the oldest colleges in the United States. Some of these schools even date back to before the U.S. became a country!

Some of the major colleges and universities in New Jersey include:

  • Montclair State University in Montclair,
  • New Jersey City University in Jersey City,
  • New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark,
  • Princeton University in Princeton,
  • Ramapo College of New Jersey in Mahwah,
  • Rowan University in Glassboro,
  • Rutgers University in New Brunswick,
  • Stockton University in Galloway Township,
  • The College of New Jersey in Ewing,
  • Thomas Edison State University in Trenton,
  • William Paterson University in Wayne.

New Jersey is filled with great grants and scholarships that its students can utilize to help them afford to attend college. Earning a spot in one of these college financial aid programs is really just a matter of applying and academically putting in the hard work at the end of the day, so there is no reason New Jersey students should bypass these opportunities.